At the time of admission, students are matched with a faculty member who is best suited to the background and research goals of the selected applicants. Together the student and advisor assemble a Graduate Advisory Committee and develop a Research Proposal and Plan of Study. The student and the advisor along with the Graduate Advisory Committee should continually monitor the progress and work diligently to achieve the goal side by side with fulfillment of all other requirements for completion of the degree. It is at this point that the advisor assumes the responsibility of a mentor. It is a very individualistic relationship and may be summarized in a variation of the words of Anne Todd as thus:
The mentor is a critical friend. He/she supports, enables and facilitates the personal and professional advancement of the student/trainee. The two act as a link, or interface with other professionals engaged in the fulfillment of the goals of the student/trainee. The mentor sets high professional standards and ethics as a ‘role model’ for the aspiring student/trainee.
Indeed, a graduate student may have more than one mentor, e.g., members of his/her Graduate Advisory Committee or even other professors in the Program. Ideally, it should build into a life-long relationship between the two. Today’s protégé will be tomorrow’s mentor!